According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, three out of every four Americans believe having an attractive smile is key to success in life. A big part of that is having white, sparkling teeth – the AACD found that the most common worry among people with dental problems is wanting whiter teeth. If you’re among those, here are three ways to get your smile looking its best.
Baking Soda Toothpaste
There’s any number of over the counter tooth whitening products available on the market today. The most common of these are in the form of dental care products like tubes of toothpaste that have baking soda – also known as calcium bicarbonate – as one of its ingredients.
Baking soda works by being mildly abrasive, strong enough to clean the surface of your teeth but gentle enough to not erode your enamel. For surface stains, baking soda toothpaste can work moderately well over time, but for more deeply stained teeth you might need more powerful means.
Teeth Whitening Strips
If you need a bit more power behind your teeth whitening, the next step up from baking soda is the teeth whitening strip. Instead of using gentle abrasion, teeth whitening strips use bleaching action – most are impregnated with hydrogen peroxide; applying these strips to your teeth for several hours at a time on a set schedule can help to whiten teeth that have more than just surface staining.
That being said, teeth whitening strips aren’t perfect. While hydrogen peroxide is good for bleaching teeth, the strips themselves are difficult to apply evenly across your teeth, which could result in some teeth not getting as much of the treatment as others. Additionally, you need to take care not to allow the strips to come into contact with your gums, as exposure to even low doses of hydrogen peroxide can lead to gum damage.
The most effective method for whitening your teeth involves enlisting the aid of your orthodontist. Orthodontists and dental health professionals have access to medical-grade tooth whitening gels that are several orders of magnitude more powerful than your run-of-the-mill teeth whitening strips – so powerful in fact that they need to be applied to your teeth in a controlled environment.
These safe orthodontic treatments are obviously the most expensive, as they do require at least one office visit. You don’t run the risk of missing certain teeth or damaging your gums like you would with strips, but too much professional whitening undergone too quickly can dehydrate your teeth, which will eventually lead to your teeth losing their new pearly sheen once they rehydrate over a week or so. It’s better to have several low-intensity office treatments instead of one high-intensity one to avoid this fate. To be sure, ask your orthodontist about which teeth whitening and other orthodontic treatments works best for you.
You don’t have to go through life with stained, yellow teeth. Depending on the amount of help you think your smile needs – and the amount of time and money you’re willing to invest – there’s a tooth whitening method that’s perfect for you.